January 11, 2012

Album Review: The Big Pink's Future This

For every Radiohead, The Horrors or Portishead that the UK has to offer, there's a mundane onslaught of Kaiser Chiefs, Kooks and White Lies waiting in the wings to put a black eye on England's alternative scene through a sickening level of high expectations met with underwhelming results. Neo-'90s Brit pop revisionists The Big Pink gave the music world a new hope for across-the-pond buzz bands on 2009's formidable debut, A Brief History of Love. Proportionately anthemic and elegantly swallowed in a sea of sexy distortion, the duo of Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell captured romance and intimacy inside tight-packed rounds of electro-pop, resulting in a headstrong single "Velvet" and standouts like "Too Young to Love." On their sophomore effort Future This, The Big Pink faces the reality of the sophomore slump by standing at the crossroads of fine-tuning their identity or over-stepping their musical capabilities. Future This manages to do both, with the latter leaving behind the bigger impression.

LP 2 from the English duo ultimately suffers from a classic case of being a top-heavy listen. It opens with the recent singles "Stay Gold" and "Hit the Ground (Superman)," two quality radio-friendly tracks which keep The Big Pink's knack for spacious hooks and immediacy in tact. It's on the subsequent "Give It Up" and "The Palace" where you're inclined to think that Furze and Cordell have committed themselves to growing out their sound given the former tracks' textured trip-hop nature and the latter's sprite electronica that shows off Furze's vocal range. Unfortunately, that's where the element of surprise ends, as The Big Pink go to the well one too many times with large-scale choruses that are repetitious and become more difficult to distinguish as the album wears on ("Jump Music, "Lose Your Mind," "Future This" and the thud of a closer, "77.")

Who exactly is at fault for Future This' weaknesses is a team effort. For starters, bringing aboard producer Paul Epworth (who worked on A Brief History of Love's least adventurous and empty-hearted single, "Dominoes") can be looked at as a poor decision, especially given his recent track record in delivering glossy, lukewarm efforts from Florence + The Machine and indie posers Foster the People. Yet, all the blame can't be put on Epworth's shoulders alone as The Big Pink's plight to bring their sound to the next level is a creative move they don't yet seem capable of pulling off. Through Future This' mundane epic gestures, Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell lose touch with most of intimacy that made their introduction so refreshing, knocking any progress they've made for the UK buzz band scene a few years back into the past.

The Big Pink's Future This will be released on January 17, 2012 on 4AD Records.

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